Toronto Harbour Permissions

The Marilyn Bell route from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Toronto

In 1954, sixteen year old Marilyn Bell pioneered the now-classic route across Lake Ontario, ending along the Toronto shoreline.

Then, as today, Toronto is a major Great Lakes port. Many of the world's iconic marathon swims cross major shipping lanes, but the Marilyn Bell route is one of the few major crossings that ends in a bustling urban harbour.

This feature of our Toronto-related swims makes for some additional challenges in coordinating safe passage in the summer months, when recreational water users compete with myriad commercial activities in and around Toronto.

The jurisdiction of the Toronto Port Authority covers our classic Marilyn Bell route, as well as Cherry Beach and Budapest Park, although Cliff Lumsdon Park, Humber Bay Park and the end of the Leslie St. Spit do not.

For four decades we have worked with the Toronto port and harbour authorities to ensure safe passage of swimmers along the historic Marilyn Bell route. This requires that we register our activities, and our safety plans, with the port authorities, marine police patrols, and the coast guard. Once your swim is registered, we need your information and signatures on the first four of the following fillable pdf forms (instructions are included in the forms, but you can find more details at Once you and your team have completed these forms, you can return them to us and we'll get things sorted with the Toronto Port Authority and Harbour Master on your behalf. The last form (TPA crew list) needs to be completed just before the swim and kept on board to show Harbour Police if they ask.